Little known fact: NYC Marathon runners in each start wave are further split into three color starts. Two of those, blue and orange, begin their marathon in Staten Island on the top level of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge before heading directly onto Fourth Avenue at 92nd Street in Brooklyn.
But the runners in the green group start on the lower level of the Verrazano, then travel down the Gowanus Expressway, then run along 74th Street in the neighborhood of Bay Ridge before turning onto Fourth Avenue where they reunite with the blue and orange groups.
This is a relatively new change in the race, not quite a decade old, and so this detour into Bay Ridge feels a little like a neighborhood secret for a select few runners.
Head to 74th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, and you’ll find an amazing block party awaits. Bay Ridge has an old-school feel—you’re not in hipster Brooklyn anymore. Neighbors who have lived on the block for decades and their families and friends all come together to make sure runners know they’re in for a treat as they enter their second borough of the five.
Go early, because this is only the third mile of 26.2 for the runners—and you’ll need to get there by 9:30 a.m. for the first and speediest wave. As a two-time veteran of the green start during my own marathon experiences, I can attest that this is a really fun place to build up some energy for the coming miles.
How to get there: Take the R train to 77th Street (or to 86th Street if you need an accessible station). Then head to 74th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.
2. For Family Viewing: Fourth Avenue, Sunset Park, and Park Slope, Brooklyn
Where to go: Fourth Avenue between 74th Street. and Flatbush Avenue
Runners stay on Fourth Avenue longer than on any other stretch of road in the marathon—about six miles total. It’s also one of the flattest sections of the course, and accessible by several subway lines, including the R train, which stops all along Fourth Avenue, from downtown Brooklyn through Park Slope and Sunset Park into Bay Ridge.
If you are cheering with a stroller or with someone who requires an accessible train stop, this might be your spot. This is a very family-friendly crowd, with lots of kids lining the road hoping to get a high-five from runners and marathoners who live here pulling over to the side for hugs, kisses, and photo ops. It’s straight and wide and thus easy to spot people you are tracking as they race.
How to get there: Take the B, Q, 2, 3, 4, 5, N, R, or D train to Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center. If you’re headed to Sunset Park, take the N or R train to 59th Street—both of these stops are accessible stations. Between these two major stops, the R train makes several other stops along Fourth Avenue all the way from Park Slope to Bay Ridge.
3. For a Dancing Hot Spot: Lafayette Avenue throughout Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Where to go: Lafayette Avenue between Flatbush Avenue and Bedford Avenue